The rocket man

I just noted this piece of news. A farmer in Hubei Province fired improvised rockets to defend his home against the property developers who wanted to demolish his home. Because of his nerves of steel, the authorities backed down and offered him RMB750,000 (US$110,750) as compensation for vacating his land.

AFP photo
Forced eviction to pave way for property development engineered by corrupt local governments has been a constant source of social unrest in China. This rocket man’s act reveals just how both desperate and determined the victims are in defending their homes.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia

China’ most prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo was sentenced by the court to 11 years in jail on Christmas Day.

This is the fourth time he has been imprisoned because of his political position and his writings. He was researching in the US while the student democratic movement broke out in China in 1989. He rushed back to China and gave support to the students. He was jailed afterwards by the Chinese government.  

But that marked only the first sentencing he, as a dissident, received of a series to follow. Each time he was released, he kept on writing and speaking his mind about how to make China a better and democratic country, and each time he was sentenced to imprisonment or a labour camp.  

How Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, supports him is touching. She married him when he was in the labour camp. She sent him books when he was in prison so that he knew what her thoughts were and it was a way of communication between them, Liu Xia said. They also wrote poems to each other.

After the latest jail sentence was announced, Liu Xia told reporters in a clam voice: “If he (Liu Xiaobo) can persevere in the face of the ordeal, so can I.” Liu will be over 60 years old when he is released, she said.

She has had her head shaved. She is such a strong and steel-willed woman, just like her husband.

The impossible mission

I often note impossible tasks set by Chinese authorities. Say this one: to raise the average life expectancy to age 78 by 2012 in the Pearl River Delta region, according to a development plan for the region released not long ago.

Currently, the average life expectancy in Guangdong province is 75. That means increasing one life expectancy age every year for the following three years. Can that be achievable? 

Btw, the Pearl River Delta region covers nine prefectures of the province of Guangdong in southern China, namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Foshan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing, plus Hong Kong and Macau. It had a population approximately of 60 million people in 2008.

The world’s No.1 longevity place is in China

In the Hechi (河池) city of Guangxi province, there is an autonomous county populated by Ba Ma Yao (巴馬瑤) ethnic group. The county now boasts the highest longevity rate in the world – every 100,000 residents, 31.7 are 100 years old or older. Now, 81 people are 100 years old or older, of its current population of about 240,000. 

According to a renowned nutritionist in China, the elderly in the county live a long life because they follow a so-called “five-low, two-high” diet – low in calorie, fat, animal protein, sodium and sugar, while high in vitamin and fiber. 

Guangxi province, in southwestern China, is among the poorest provinces in China. The ethnic group of Ba Ma Yao surely does not live in luxury. Their simple and low calorie diet has helped them live a longer life, coupled with the green and beautiful environment there, the experts say.

Another reason behind the longevity, according to research, is that the Ba Ma Yao people live in red-brick houses, which release a kind of natural energy, helping to improve human’s immune and digestive system. Houses made of cement of modern days do not release such beneficial energy. 

Here’s a glimpse of the beauty of the autonomous county of Ba Ma Yao ethnic group.

The first direct election of student leader in China

I do not usually file favorable reports about China, but this news is worth posting. Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou just held a direct election of the president of the university’s students’ union. It is the first direct election ever held in a Chinese university. 

Four student candidates vied for the post and each was given RMB2000 for their campaign. The polling took place on 11 November and the result announced the following day. Turn out rate is 61%. 

The elected student leader’s platform is based on one key message – the university should have a mechanism to allow student participation in its major decision making process.